Rep. Vos: University’s Decision on Obama Event May Affect Budget

Speaking at a WisPolitics luncheon earlier this week, Speaker-elect Robin Vos (R-Burlington) said the decision to cancel classes in a handful of campus buildings may cost the university real dollars in a few months when the legislature begins biennial budget deliberations:

“They continue to make mistake after mistake. And I think that they obviously are pretty tone deaf to say that (resources are that tight) if we think politics should trump having kids get a good education. It’s a clear indicator to me that the people of the university just don’t get it. And they are going to have a hard time with this budget if they have that sort of an attitude.”

Vos was voicing his concern about an October 4 campaign event with President Barack Obama on Bascom Hill that required nearby buildings to be closed. Other comments on the event:

“You need to make sure that you have classes, so kids can go to school and not participate in a political event.”

“When we look at the university and they come to us and say we need to have more funding to do additional classes, to do additional compensation for professors and then I see that they are willing to take time out of a student’s calendar year to have their professors be able to attend a political rally, it wouldn’t matter if it was a Republican or a Democrat, that’s not the thing that I would say you close a school down for.”

“Its not gonna be a tit for tat, but when they come to us and ask us for more money, all those things are considerations.”

According to David Giroux, executive director for communications for UW System, classes were not cancelled campus-wide, but a handful of buildings were closed out of safety concerns. Faculty were encouraged to reschedule classes to make up for the missed time.

Job Placement and Specialization

Vos also said he asked UW System to provide him with data about how many classes professors teach. He is concerned the university has done a poor job in making sure that students earn degrees that will help them get jobs after graduation, and said he might consider using job placement rates as a criterion for higher education funding:

“(The UW) has been very poor at prioritizing its resources toward making sure people get a degree where they can earn a job.”

Citing the current economy, Vos also suggested that campuses within UW System should consider specializing in certain area of study:

“Sometimes I think that the university wants to be everything for everybody, and that’s a laudable goal, but when times are tough you have to prioritize.”